Anna karenina, p.177
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       Anna Karenina, p.177

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 20

  "Here's Dolly for you, princess, you were so anxious to see her," saidAnna, coming out with Darya Alexandrovna onto the stone terrace wherePrincess Varvara was sitting in the shade at an embroidery frame,working at a cover for Count Alexey Kirillovitch's easy chair. "She saysshe doesn't want anything before dinner, but please order some lunch forher, and I'll go and look for Alexey and bring them all in."

  Princess Varvara gave Dolly a cordial and rather patronizing reception,and began at once explaining to her that she was living with Annabecause she had always cared more for her than her sister KaterinaPavlovna, the aunt that had brought Anna up, and that now, when everyone had abandoned Anna, she thought it her duty to help her in this mostdifficult period of transition.

  "Her husband will give her a divorce, and then I shall go back to mysolitude; but now I can be of use, and I am doing my duty, howeverdifficult it may be for me--not like some other people. And how sweet itis of you, how right of you to have come! They live like the best ofmarried couples; it's for God to judge them, not for us. And didn'tBiryuzovsky and Madame Avenieva ... and Sam Nikandrov, and Vassiliev andMadame Mamonova, and Liza Neptunova... Did no one say anything aboutthem? And it has ended by their being received by everyone. And then,_c'est un interieur si joli, si comme il faut. Tout-a-fait a l'anglaise.On se reunit le matin au breakfast, et puis on se separe._ Everyone doesas he pleases till dinnertime. Dinner at seven o'clock. Stiva did veryrightly to send you. He needs their support. You know that through hismother and brother he can do anything. And then they do so much good. Hedidn't tell you about his hospital? _Ce sera admirable_--everything fromParis."

  Their conversation was interrupted by Anna, who had found the men of theparty in the billiard room, and returned with them to the terrace. Therewas still a long time before the dinner-hour, it was exquisite weather,and so several different methods of spending the next two hours wereproposed. There were very many methods of passing the time atVozdvizhenskoe, and these were all unlike those in use at Pokrovskoe.

  "_Une partie de lawn-tennis,_" Veslovsky proposed, with his handsomesmile. "We'll be partners again, Anna Arkadyevna."

  "No, it's too hot; better stroll about the garden and have a row in theboat, show Darya Alexandrovna the river banks." Vronsky proposed.

  "I agree to anything," said Sviazhsky.

  "I imagine that what Dolly would like best would be a stroll--wouldn'tyou? And then the boat, perhaps," said Anna.

  So it was decided. Veslovsky and Tushkevitch went off to the bathingplace, promising to get the boat ready and to wait there for them.

  They walked along the path in two couples, Anna with Sviazhsky, andDolly with Vronsky. Dolly was a little embarrassed and anxious in thenew surroundings in which she found herself. Abstractly, theoretically,she did not merely justify, she positively approved of Anna's conduct.As is indeed not unfrequent with women of unimpeachable virtue, weary ofthe monotony of respectable existence, at a distance she not onlyexcused illicit love, she positively envied it. Besides, she loved Annawith all her heart. But seeing Anna in actual life among thesestrangers, with this fashionable tone that was so new to DaryaAlexandrovna, she felt ill at ease. What she disliked particularly wasseeing Princess Varvara ready to overlook everything for the sake of thecomforts she enjoyed.

  As a general principle, abstractly, Dolly approved of Anna's action; butto see the man for whose sake her action had been taken was disagreeableto her. Moreover, she had never liked Vronsky. She thought him veryproud, and saw nothing in him of which he could be proud except hiswealth. But against her own will, here in his own house, he overawed hermore than ever, and she could not be at ease with him. She felt with himthe same feeling she had had with the maid about her dressing jacket.Just as with the maid she had felt not exactly ashamed, but embarrassedat her darns, so she felt with him not exactly ashamed, but embarrassedat herself.

  Dolly was ill at ease, and tried to find a subject of conversation. Eventhough she supposed that, through his pride, praise of his house andgarden would be sure to be disagreeable to him, she did all the sametell him how much she liked his house.

  "Yes, it's a very fine building, and in the good old-fashioned style,"he said.

  "I like so much the court in front of the steps. Was that always so?"

  "Oh, no!" he said, and his face beamed with pleasure. "If you could onlyhave seen that court last spring!"

  And he began, at first rather diffidently, but more and more carriedaway by the subject as he went on, to draw her attention to the variousdetails of the decoration of his house and garden. It was evident that,having devoted a great deal of trouble to improve and beautify his home,Vronsky felt a need to show off the improvements to a new person, andwas genuinely delighted at Darya Alexandrovna's praise.

  "If you would care to look at the hospital, and are not tired, indeed,it's not far. Shall we go?" he said, glancing into her face to convincehimself that she was not bored. "Are you coming, Anna?" he turned toher.

  "We will come, won't we?" she said, addressing Sviazhsky. "_Mais il nefaut pas laisser le pauvre Veslovsky et Tushkevitch se morfondre la dansle bateau._ We must send and tell them."

  "Yes, this is a monument he is setting up here," said Anna, turning toDolly with that sly smile of comprehension with which she had previouslytalked about the hospital.

  "Oh, it's a work of real importance!" said Sviazhsky. But to show he wasnot trying to ingratiate himself with Vronsky, he promptly added someslightly critical remarks.

  "I wonder, though, count," he said, "that while you do so much for thehealth of the peasants, you take so little interest in the schools."

  "_C'est devenu tellement commun les ecoles,_" said Vronsky. "Youunderstand it's not on that account, but it just happens so, my interesthas been diverted elsewhere. This way then to the hospital," he said toDarya Alexandrovna, pointing to a turning out of the avenue.

  The ladies put up their parasols and turned into the side path. Aftergoing down several turnings, and going through a little gate, DaryaAlexandrovna saw standing on rising ground before her a largepretentious-looking red building, almost finished. The iron roof, whichwas not yet painted, shone with dazzling brightness in the sunshine.Beside the finished building another had been begun, surrounded byscaffolding. Workmen in aprons, standing on scaffolds, were layingbricks, pouring mortar out of vats, and smoothing it with trowels.

  "How quickly work gets done with you!" said Sviazhsky. "When I was herelast time the roof was not on."

  "By the autumn it will all be ready. Inside almost everything is done,"said Anna.

  "And what's this new building?"

  "That's the house for the doctor and the dispensary," answered Vronsky,seeing the architect in a short jacket coming towards him; and excusinghimself to the ladies, he went to meet him.

  Going round a hole where the workmen were slaking lime, he stood stillwith the architect and began talking rather warmly.

  "The front is still too low," he said to Anna, who had asked what wasthe matter.

  "I said the foundation ought to be raised," said Anna.

  "Yes, of course it would have been much better, Anna Arkadyevna," saidthe architect, "but now it's too late."

  "Yes, I take a great interest in it," Anna answered Sviazhsky, who wasexpressing his surprise at her knowledge of architecture. "This newbuilding ought to have been in harmony with the hospital. It was anafterthought, and was begun without a plan."

  Vronsky, having finished his talk with the architect, joined the ladies,and led them inside the hospital.

  Although they were still at work on the cornices outside and werepainting on the ground floor, upstairs almost all the rooms werefinished. Going up the broad cast-iron staircase to the landing, theywalked into the first large room. The walls were stuccoed to look likemarble, the huge plate-glass windows were already in, only the parquetfloor was not yet finished, and the carpenters, who were planing a blockof it, left their work, taking off the bands that fast
ened their hair,to greet the gentry.

  "This is the reception room," said Vronsky. "Here there will be a desk,tables, and benches, and nothing more."

  "This way; let us go in here. Don't go near the window," said Anna,trying the paint to see if it were dry. "Alexey, the paint's dryalready," she added.

  From the reception room they went into the corridor. Here Vronsky showedthem the mechanism for ventilation on a novel system. Then he showedthem marble baths, and beds with extraordinary springs. Then he showedthem the wards one after another, the storeroom, the linen room, thenthe heating stove of a new pattern, then the trolleys, which would makeno noise as they carried everything needed along the corridors, and manyother things. Sviazhsky, as a connoisseur in the latest mechanicalimprovements, appreciated everything fully. Dolly simply wondered at allshe had not seen before, and, anxious to understand it all, made minuteinquiries about everything, which gave Vronsky great satisfaction.

  "Yes, I imagine that this will be the solitary example of a properlyfitted hospital in Russia," said Sviazhsky.

  "And won't you have a lying-in ward?" asked Dolly. "That's so muchneeded in the country. I have often..."

  In spite of his usual courtesy, Vronsky interrupted her.

  "This is not a lying-in home, but a hospital for the sick, and isintended for all diseases, except infectious complaints," he said. "Ah!look at this," and he rolled up to Darya Alexandrovna an invalid chairthat had just been ordered for the convalescents. "Look." He sat down inthe chair and began moving it. "The patient can't walk--still too weak,perhaps, or something wrong with his legs, but he must have air, and hemoves, rolls himself along...."

  Darya Alexandrovna was interested by everything. She liked everythingvery much, but most of all she liked Vronsky himself with his natural,simple-hearted eagerness. "Yes, he's a very nice, good man," she thoughtseveral times, not hearing what he said, but looking at him andpenetrating into his expression, while she mentally put herself inAnna's place. She liked him so much just now with his eager interestthat she saw how Anna could be in love with him.

 
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